Cambridge, Ontario, Canada,real estate broker Steve Bailey strikes deal to avoid discipline hearing
‘RECO has failed the public,’ says realtor who was set to testify against Cambridge’s Steve Bailey
Ontario’s real estate regulator has struck a deal with a Cambridge broker accused of multiple Code of Ethics violations, allowing him to avoid a discipline hearing while paying an undisclosed fine.
After denying any wrongdoing for more than two years, Steve Bailey decided not to fight the allegations against him in an open forum and signed an agreed statement of facts with the Real Estate Board of Ontario (RECO).
Bailey, a former RECO board member, was accused of breaking sections of the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act intended to protect the public.
RECO zeroed in on two complaints against Bailey, surrounding the aborted private sale of a woman’s Waterloo home in 2016, and a house sale in Plattsville in 2017.
In the first complaint, the broker was accused of arranging a private sale for his parents to buy a home for $200,000 less than its assessed tax value, and $300,000 less than its approximate market value.
The deal was only stopped when the seller’s lawyer raised concerns about the low sale price.
In the second complaint, it was alleged Bailey oversaw a transaction that cost a seller $10,000 on the sale of their house, when a higher competing offer was denied in favour of a lower offer represented by Bailey’s mother-in-law Isabel Pinheiro, who is also a realtor.
RECO had planned to give the complaints against the broker a public airing in a two-week-long discipline hearing. Instead, it struck a deal with Bailey behind closed doors and cancelled the hearing.
The penalty and details of the broker’s plea bargain were not immediately released. Bailey will retain his real estate licence.
The regulator spent many months investigating Bailey and preparing for a discipline hearing that was to begin this week.
The broker previously insisted he had done nothing wrong and portrayed himself as a victim of an overzealous regulator unfairly targeting him because he was a former RECO board member.
Bailey and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment to explain the sudden change of heart.
Some local realtors who had closely followed the case were angered by the last-minute deal that allowed Bailey to avoid further public scrutiny.
“RECO has failed the public,” said Don MacKey, a realtor who formerly worked in Bailey’s office and was scheduled to testify against him.
“We’re all in shock over this. I just don’t believe the public interest has been addressed by RECO. These facts should have been heard in a public forum.”
Adam Hawkins, a RECO spokesperson, said he couldn’t comment on the deal struck with Bailey.
But he said the regulator considers the public interest in all of its decisions, even if the people who filed the complaints may not have wanted a private deal that would avoid a discipline hearing.
“Discipline cases are prosecuted by RECO, and not by the complainants. When considering a settlement … RECO wouldn’t typically consult with the complainants. However, RECO must always determine whether the agreed-upon facts and penalty are appropriate for the misconduct, with a goal of protecting the public interest,” he said in an email.
RECO says its policy is to cancel discipline hearings if an agreed statement of facts (ASF) can be reached with the realtor who is the subject of the complaint.
“It’s important to emphasize that we don’t consider whether a matter “deserves” a public hearing. Our focus is on obtaining an appropriate outcome to protect the public interest, whether that occurs via an ASF, or after a full disciplinary hearing,” he said.
His lawyer, Lorne Honickman, told a RECO panel in April that the regulator acted in bad faith in pursuing complaints against the broker — and accused the council of an “abuse of process” against Bailey, a former RECO board member.